May 25, 2012

Fundamentalist Christian Apologetics Or A Crusade Against Science?

Religious Products: Prayers and Playthings, The Economist, July 14, 2012.  "Religions rarely praise consumerism. But 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims are a big market. Sales of books on the world’s two biggest faiths are soaring, with interactive Korans and Bibles among the innovative products. Last year sales of religious books in America grew by 8% in a declining industry."

Popular Science Books Take Off: A Big Bang In Physics Publishing by Tom Chivers, The Guardian, September 6, 2010:

"Traditionally, evolutionary biology has received most attention from publishers. As the philosopher and neuroscientist Daniel Dennett says, no area of science has been so well served by its writers: Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould and John Maynard Smith are particularly fine examples.

"But since Dennett wrote that in 1995, evolutionary theory has been fighting for shelf space, as quantum physics and relativity mount a comeback. The past few weeks have seen Stephen Hawking’s new book, The Grand Design, move from the books pages to the front pages with its provocative argument that physicists do not need a creator to explain the universe’s existence. But a reader could equally well pick up We Need to Talk about Kelvin by Marcus Chown; In Search of the Multiverse by John Gribbin; Quantum by Manjit Kumar; Void by Frank Close; and dozens more.

"'There’s a real interest in science books at the moment,' says Stuart Clark, author of The Universe (part of the 'Big Question' series). And it’s not as if they’re light reading. Clark’s own book asks what stars are made from, whether there are alternative universes, what the fate of the universe will be, and whether, à la Hawking, there is cosmological evidence for the existence of God."

Contemporary fundamentalist Christians continuously and aggressively try to influence American politics and public education.  They also try to directly discredit and infuse science with supernaturalism and faith.  Their efforts are especially aimed at the foundational tenet of biology and all the life sciences, evolution.

Those around the world who seek a future where all Humankind and our stewardship of Earth is guided by a secular-scientific yet pluralistic global forum, face a monumental challenge.  That being the efforts of fundamental Christians and Muslims who aspire to being more than equals in such a pluralistic future.  Their faith-based, supernatural views, for example, are not regarded by them to be pluralistic alternatives to scientific-secularism.  On the contrary, the views of fundamentalists are seen by the faithful to represent an absolute truth that must, if and when necessary, be imposed on Humankind.

In part, this zealous effort is carried out through the publication of books such as those listed below.  This small but nevertheless representative sample of fundamentalist Christian efforts was published between the late 1960s and 2008.  I bought them at used bookstores and garage sales in the small, very conservative, predominantly Christian county where I live here in the American South.  I was not surprised to discover that most of the books are not simply apologetic approaches to Christianity.  They are outright assaults on science.  I will gradually be placing comments below each book as I review them in depth.  I would be very happy to receive readers' comments on the books and your reactions to my reviews.

The best that secular-scientific thinking people can do is be informed about the contents of these books.  That's why I bought the books and have begun reviewing them - to be informed about what a very large number of my American compatriots think (believe?) about science, especially biological evolution.

For the sake of individual and social liberty, secular-scientific thinkers must also speak out against such views when they are used to gain influence within government or enact religious-biased legislation binding on all citizens.

Religious beliefs posing as science should also and always be opposed when such views are taught in the public schools as singular, universal, absolute truths about the universe and life, rather than as part of secular comparative religious studies.

Finally, advocates of religious dogma should be resisted fervently when they attempt to have their views about the universe and Life presented in public education science classrooms and incorporated into science curricula as acceptable alternatives to empirical, testable, reproducible scientific theory and fact.  Such beliefs are an affront to skepticism and free inquiry into any subject, values that have been hallmarks of Humankind's cultural evolutionary success for far longer than religion has been with us.  Over many millenia, skepticism, free inquiry, and free-thinking have proven to be our best way of understanding and surviving in Nature.  This worldview and its record of establishing testable, proven facts, therefore, offers the best hope for our species' survival and its successful stewardship of Earth.

The Evolution of a Creationist: The Layman's Guide to the Conflict Between the Bible and Evolutionary Theory by Dr. Jobe Martin, 2008, Biblical Discipleship Publishers, Rockwall, Texas, 287 pages

What Darwin Didn't Know - A Doctor Dissects the Theory of Evolution by Geoffrey Simmons, M.D., 2004, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 318 pages

Dinosaurs and the Bible by Ralph O. Muncaster, 2003, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 47 pages

Refuting Evolution 2:  What PBS and the Scientific Community Don't Want You to Know by Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., 2002, Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 235 pages

Creation & Evolution 101: A Guide to Science and the Bible in Plain Language by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz, 2001, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 284 pages

And God Created Darwin: The Death of Darwinian Evolution by Duane Arthur Schmidt, 2001, Allegiance Press, Fairfax, Virginia, 207 pages

Darwin's Demise - Why Evolution Can't Take the Heat by Joe White, Ed.D. and Nicholas Comninellis, M.D., 2001, Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 186 pages

Does God Believe in Atheists? by John Blanchard, Evangelical Press, 2000, Darlington, England, 655 pages

Creation vs. Evolution by Ralph O. Muncaster, 2000, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 48 pages

Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? - Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong by Jonathan Wells, 2000, Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, 338 pages

Refuting Evolution:  A Handbook for Students, Parents, and Teachers Countering the Latest Arguments for Evolution - A Response to the National Academy of Sciences' Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science by Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., 1999, Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 143 pages

Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Phillip E. Johnson, 1997, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 131 pages

Handbook of Today's Religions by Josh McDowell and Don Steward, 1983, Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc.,Thomas Nelson Publishers, 567 pages

Evolution:  The Fossils Say No! by Duane T. Gish, Ph.D., 1972, Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego, 129 pages

Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation?, 1967, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 191 Pages

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a comprehensive secular-scientific treatment of biological and human evolution, see the suggested readings on my previous blog post:  "The Case for Human Evolution, Science, and Reason - A Reading List".

See also my critiques on the common myths about evolution which are contained in most of the books listed above:  "Top 10 Myths About Evolution and a Comment on US Science Education" and "Myths About Evolution and Secularism - An Outline."

As for the threats against science in America see my posts:  "Perilous Times for Science" and "Why So Many Americans Hate Liberals, Science and Reason - Two Book Reviews."

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